Come Saturday Morning: Waitergate — Was Emmer Lying Then, or Is He Lying Now?
Remember when I talked last Saturday about Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer’s War on the Waitstaff? Remember how his claim that the waiters and waitresses at a particular St. Paul eatery made $100,000 a year was debunked by one of the joint’s owners?
Well, guess what — Emmer’s still repeating that debunked claim, this time to a friendly audience, the Republican Jewish Coalition (skip ahead to the 4:30 mark):
If any of the Democrats in the race — Margaret Kelliher, Mark Dayton, or Matt Entenza — said something as blatantly wrong (not to mention nutty) as this, it would be described as such on the front page of both local papers and be a big story in local newscasts for weeks, and none of the Dems would have dared repeat it, even in front of a friendly group. Dayton in particular is someone who has been tarred as a nutcase even as Republicans like Emmer, Dick Day and Michele Bachmann get comparatively gentle media treatment. (Kinda like how Eliot Spitzer is “disgraced”, but Newt Gingrich and David Vitter aren’t as far as the Corporate GOP/Media Complex is concerned. But I digress.)
Speaking of Diaper Dave Vitter, Emmer’s story seems to get changed about as often as a newborn’s nappies; after Emmer released his alleged “fact-check” claiming that he really doesn’t think servers make $100,000 and that he doesn’t back cutting their wages, Alliance for a Better Minnesota released its own, accurate fact-check (here’s the PDF version that’s designed to be printed out and handed out to waitstaff), that absolutely detonated Emmer’s claims. But so far, the media entities most likely to notice this, much less highlight this (the Strib’s Jon Tevlin aside), are the bloggers:
MN Publius’s Zack Stephenson was the first to notice that Emmer was still reciting the $100,000 myth to select audiences even after he’d kinda-sorta recanted it to the general public. (It’s rather odd to me that the video, which was posted by conservative blogger “Captain” Ed Morrisey of Captain’s Quarters, hasn’t been pulled or apparently even edited yet; as Sally Jo Sorensen of Bluestem Prairie notes, Emmer’s associates are known for being awfully quick to scrub online media they control.) Stephenson’s colleague Jeff Rosenberg has noted both that Emmer’s been trying to finesse his statements about servers, and that servers are, far from being filthy rich, in the lowest-paid occupation in the state of Minnesota. (Oh, and Rosenberg points out that waitstaff aren’t the only working-class people on whom Emmer’s making war: As governor, Tom Emmer would sign a bill that would cut the minimum wage.)
Flash of the Centristy blog was one of the persons attending Emmer’s attempt to make nice with waitstaff for the cameras at Cafe de Ol’ Mexico last Wednesday. As the event wore on and the servers refused for the most part to play his game, one Emmer supporter was heard by Flash muttering “What is he doing….this is a catastrophe”.
Spotty of The Cucking Stool notes that not only did Emmer get an earful from angry servers, he also got a “tip” — in the form of two thousand pennies — from Robert Erickson, who we’ve met before as the gent who poses as an anti-European-immigration activist to tweak the GOP in general (and Tom Emmer in particular). Erickson, who is the working persona of Nick Espinosa, was, ahem, escorted out of Ol’ Mexico before he could say to Emmer: “Your attacks on the minimum wage for working people make about as much sense as your crusade against the hard working immigrants who are a vibrant part of our community.” Erickson knows, as do the folks at SEIU Local 26, that the issues of living wages and immigration are tied together, as sweatshop lords — be they restaurateurs or factory owners — count on having a steady supply of workers whose precarious legal status makes them readily exploitable; giving these workers full legal rights means making it harder for crooked employers to screw them. Erickson’s offered to meet face-to-face with Emmer to talk about this and other issues, but — after agreeing to do so — Emmer did another of his 180s, much to Erickson’s disgust:
After urging me to “have a little courage” to talk to you face to face, it seems you have again changed your mind. By now, Minnesota and the nation have a clear view of your two-faced ways.
You say I ran out the back door, when really I was shoved out by your security. You say you want to talk, but refused the invitation to a community meeting with those affected by your policies.
Wages for wait staff isn’t the only place you waver. You have waffled about your position on the Arizona’s controversial immigration law SB1070. First you praised it on MPR as a “wonderful first step”, then, in a recent interview you backpedaled and failed to answer whether or not you would support bringing similar measures to Minnesota.
Before the Ol’ Mexico meltdown on Wednesday, Emmer had tried another another stunt, this one involving waiting on tables, at the same restaurant on Monday. As Joe Bodell of the Minnesota Progressive Project says, critiquing a WCCO-TV story on the subject:
What the WCCO report doesn’t tell you is that Ol’ Mexico, the restaurant where Emmer shadowed a waiter, is owned by one Elizabeth Pavlick. Ms. Pavlick donated $250 to Tom Emmer’s gubernatorial campaign on December 31st, 2009. You can find her name on page 19 of Emmer’s year-end 2009 CFB report.
Funny how that works.